\ ˈthred How to pronounce thread (audio) \

Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a filament, a group of filaments twisted together, or a filamentous length formed by spinning and twisting short textile fibers into a continuous strand
b : a piece of thread
2a : any of various natural filaments the threads of a spiderweb
b : a slender stream (as of water)
c : a projecting helical rib (as in a fitting or on a pipe) by which parts can be screwed together : screw thread
3 : something continuous or drawn out: such as
a : a line of reasoning or train of thought that connects the parts in a sequence (as of ideas or events) lost the thread of the story
b : a continuing element a thread of melancholy marked all his writing
c : a series of electronic messages (as on a message board or social media website) following a single topic or in response to a single message
4 : a tenuous or feeble support hung on by a thread
5 threads plural : clothing


threaded; threading; threads

Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to pass a thread through the eye of (a needle)
b : to arrange a thread, yarn, or lead-in piece in working position for use in (a machine)
2a(1) : to pass something through in the manner of a thread thread a pipe with wire
(2) : to pass (something, such as a tape, line, or film) into or through something threaded a fresh roll of film into the camera
b : to make one's way through or between threading narrow alleys also : to make one's way usually cautiously through a hazardous situation
3 : to put together on or as if on a thread : string thread beads
4 : to interweave with or as if with threads : intersperse dark hair threaded with silver
5 : to form a screw thread on or in

intransitive verb

1 : weave sense 2 the car threaded through traffic
2 : to form a thread

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Other Words from thread


threadless \ ˈthred-​ləs How to pronounce threadless (audio) \ adjective
threadlike \ ˈthred-​ˌlīk How to pronounce threadlike (audio) \ adjective


threader noun

Synonyms for thread

Synonyms: Noun

bristle, fiber, filament, hair

Synonyms: Verb

interlace, intersperse, interweave, lace, salt, weave, wreathe

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Examples of thread in a Sentence


A thread was hanging from the hem of her coat. the unwary bug was snared in the sticky threads of the spider's web


She threaded her shoelace through the holes. thread film through a camera They had to thread their way through the crowd. Waiters threaded through the crowd. a river that threads through narrow valleys
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Patriots quarterback waded into a tweet thread Monday afternoon to cheekily defend his running chops after some criticized his high rating in the latest Madden video game. Jaclyn Reiss,, "A regular guy on Twitter dissed Tom Brady’s running speed — and Brady clapped back," 15 July 2019 Regulation of online speech is not exclusively an antitrust concern, but today these threads are becoming interwoven. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "Fighting Big Tech Makes for Some Uncomfortable Bedfellows," 14 July 2019 Those threads use an amino acid group called dihydroxyphenylalanine, or DOPA, which uses a few chemistry tricks, like hydrogen bonding, that allows it to form a super-tight bond with all sorts of substrates. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Mussels’ Sticky Threads Could Inspire Ways to Clean Up Oil Spills, Purify Water and More," 13 July 2019 Kate Fitzpatrick adds a web of embroidery thread to an abstract canvas. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Pulsating dramas of light and sound," 12 July 2019 That’s because games currently tend to benefit from faster individual cores and scale worse across multiple threads. Jon Porter, The Verge, "AMD Ryzen 3000 review roundup: a worthy alternative to Intel," 9 July 2019 Harry develops theories of the case, pursues them, comes to a dead end, and then follows another thread that leads him to the next suspect. Rob Merrill, Dallas News, "Super sleuth Harry Hole is at his sharpest in Jo Nesbo's 'Knife'," 9 July 2019 The Twitter thread beneath any tweet can undermine or amplify the president’s chosen message. David French, National Review, "The Second Circuit Court of Appeals Was Wrong to Rule That Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users," 9 July 2019 One of most moving threads in this story is Evvie and Andy’s relationship. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, "She’s a former Minnesota lawyer turned NPR podcaster — and the first-time author of one of summer’s hottest books," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The mountains were different shades of navy and deep green and threaded at their base by a silvery, cloud-like mist. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "As Alaska burns, acts of caring — for yourself, and for others — might save your sanity," 11 July 2019 Backers of a measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in Arizona are taking their time to determine what should be in the law and how to thread the needle on the most controversial issues for voters. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "10 things to look for in a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona," 29 June 2019 Babe tested the same ideologies that have been threaded into every other start-up success of this generation: Ask forgiveness, not permission. Amelia Harnish,, "Frat Feminism: Inside The Rise And Fall Of Babe.Net," 25 June 2019 In the case of a kidney abnormality, doctors would typically thread a thin tube through a blood vessel, often starting in the groin, and inject a substance to cut off blood flow to the benign tumor or malformation. Kim Painter, USA TODAY, "Q&A: What might be going on with Melania Trump's benign kidney condition," 15 May 2018 Finding little support from her superiors in Beijing, Lam is still trying to thread the needle of restoring order without making concessions that would weaken her standing. Keith Bradsher,, "Protesters return to Hong Kong’s streets, rejecting leader’s apology," 16 June 2019 Sister City and Ace Hotel share this ethos, and it’s threaded in all of our projects. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Atelier Ace's New New York City Hotel Wants to Help You Clear Your Head," 14 May 2019 Plucking your brows with an old, dull pair of tweezers can be as futile as trying to thread a needle with frayed thread. Devon Abelman, Allure, "This Hack For Sharpening Dull Tweezers Is Going Viral on Reddit," 13 Apr. 2018 The evaluation is a kind of fishing expedition, in which doctors thread an array of electrodes into the brain and wait for seizures to occur to see whether surgery might prevent them. Benedict Carey, New York Times, "A Brain Implant Improved Memory, Scientists Report," 6 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thread.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of thread


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for thread


Middle English thred, from Old English thrǣd; akin to Old High German drāt wire, Old English thrāwan to cause to twist or turn — more at throw entry 1

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Statistics for thread

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thread

The first known use of thread was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for thread



English Language Learners Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long, thin piece of cotton, silk, etc., used for sewing
literary : a long, thin line of something
: the raised line that winds around a screw



English Language Learners Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a thread, string, rope, etc., through a hole in something
: to put (film or tape) into a movie camera, tape recorder, etc., so that it is ready to be used
: to move forward by turning and going through narrow spaces


\ ˈthred How to pronounce thread (audio) \

Kids Definition of thread

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a thin fine cord formed by spinning and twisting short fibers into a continuous strand
2 : a thin fine line or strand of something a thread of light
3 : the ridge or groove that winds around a screw
4 : a train of thought that connects the parts of something (as an argument or story)

Other Words from thread

threadlike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective


threaded; threading

Kids Definition of thread (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a thread in working position (as in a needle)
2 : to pass something through another thing Thread the film through the camera.
3 : to make a way through or between He rushes on and on … threading his way with perfect skill between tree-trunks …— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
4 : to put together on a thread : string

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More from Merriam-Webster on thread

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with thread

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thread

Spanish Central: Translation of thread

Nglish: Translation of thread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thread for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about thread

Comments on thread

What made you want to look up thread? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something desired as essential

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